30 November 2008

NaBloPoMo No Mo'!


Ohmigosh! It's over!

Let's be honest...I don't exactly have important news flashes that need airing on a daily basis. But I couldn't just blather on each day because I have the inherent, illogical need to entertain my readers--yes, all 3 of you.

In the end, I have learned that I prefer fewer, more robust posts to frequent, weaker ones that lack genuine content. Of course, I've also learned, as was my goal, to be more comfortable with the little mistakes that naturally come from high-frequency posting. All in all, I'm very happy to have participated in NaBloPoMo and with blogging in general.

To prove that I have actually stretched my comfort zone out a bit, here are some crooked photos.

This is A2 chasing after me while I was trying to take a decent photo of him.
crooked photo

And this is a horribly crooked, out of focus mirror image of A1 being worn to show that 40 pound preschoolers need wrappin' love too.
horrible self portrait

Even though we've reached the end of this daily blogging journey, please don't stop checking in, but don't expect daily posts either because that's just unhealthy for you and me both!

29 November 2008

Guinea pigs

guinea pig play 1

guinea pig play 2

guinea pig play 3

We signed up to keep 3 guinea pigs from A1's classroom for a full week. And let me tell you, that's just about enough for me! I'm glad the boys are enjoying them, but it's nearly unfathomable how much feces such small critters can produce. **shudder**

Here are some oh-so-fun facts:
  • Guinea pigs were first domesticated in the Andean region in 5000 BCE primarily as a food source (Peruvians continue to consume an estimated 65 million guinea pigs each year!) though they also served diagnostic purposes for traditional healers
  • They thrive in bonded groups of others within their own species; their social and personal grooming uses the milky-white substance secreted from their eyes to rub into their fur
  • Since they cannot synthesize their own vitamin C, an insufficient dietary source means they can be prone to scurvy; they also supplement their diet by coprophagy to recycle B vitamins, fiber, and beneficial bacteria

28 November 2008

Does Anybody Else Look Like Me: A Parent's Guide to Raising Multicultural Children by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

First off, I'd like to thank those who left kind comments regarding my post yesterday. It wasn't my intention to elicit your sympathy (though I am quite grateful for it), but to show how fleeting and fragile life can be so we that are mindful of ourselves and our loved ones in every possible moment. Also, I wanted to illustrate the power we possess as mothers to teach our children about accepting and celebrating the differences (and similarities too!) in others.

I've experienced racism from minor and well-intentioned to major and catastrophic but none of it has contributed to any major paradigm shifts in my thinking and behavior. Given this, I'm not quite sure why I even bought this book. Perhaps my fears were that the boys, being multiracial instead of having a single ethnic background upon which to lean, would have a more difficult time than I did.

The author is not a social scientist of any sort but understands well and thoroughly presents the empirical data with great finesse. In fact, it is probably her lack of scientific credentials which allows her to apply the material in highly relevant, actionable steps that include ways to foster positive identity development, guidelines and scripts for discussion, and a list of further reading, all of which is broken down by different ages and stages.

Overall, I enjoyed this book--it's very rare that I can't get something positive out of reading any book--but found a few facets a little distracting. One such issue is related to the author's attempt to cover every conceivable combination of race, including adoption, siblings of different racial makeup, etc. The other one is probably related to the fact that I live in a culturally diverse area where mixed race marriages are not uncommon, making some of the author's anecdotes seem artificially magnified in intensity.

27 November 2008

Please follow the link...

It's Thanksgiving and I imagine U.S. bloggers everywhere are all composing moving passages on what this holiday means to them and expressing gratitude for their many blessings. At this point, I'm a bit turkey-drunk to be as eloquent as I'd like. I will say this: I am heartily grateful for my family and their continued health (thanks for the little reminder of this gift, Mama Sheila).

The beauty of family is that we are secure in the absolute fact that they will always be there to tease and taunt us, to forgive us, to fight with us, and to love us. In fact, we take it for granted that they will always be there. And as it turns out, this is not the reality at all.

Almost 13 years ago, my cousin was rushing out the door to meet his friends for a Superbowl party. His sister and I were in the living room practicing on our zithers and I'm not sure that either one of us even looked up at him when we bellowed our goodbyes across the room. That was the last time anyone in our family saw my cousin. Well, it was the last time I saw him in real life. In my mind, I see him all the time because I often replay our final goodbye, desperately hoping that things change--that he doesn't walk out the door or that I at least look at him and hug him and tell him what he means to me.

Please read about my cousin here. And please remember not to take each other for granted.

26 November 2008

Thanksgiving prep

I find it remarkable that new immigrants, like my family, can celebrate the history of this nation with just as much vigor and enthusiasm as those whose roots run much deeper, like my husband's family.

Part of our family tradition is for me to make grander plans than I should and then go a little crazy in my attempt to execute those plans. Well, I'm breaking with tradition this year and scaling back my menu by a lot. It is, after all, a potluck and I need to learn to let others pick up a little bit of the slack.

Tonight, I did my usual pre-Thanksgiving cooking (to be followed by some turkey roasting tomorrow!).

It wouldn't be a proper meal without green bean casserole. There's something about the ice bath that I love. I think it's just a nice reminder that I didn't just open up a can of precooked, prediced vegetables.
green bean ice bath
green bean casserole

Mashed potatoes are another standard. I like mine with LOTS of garlic.
garlic mashed potatoes

I also like it with lumps and a little bit of the skin--again, it's that appearance of having been homemade that I enjoy.
garlic mashed potatoes 2

As for the dressing, I've already made and "cubed" the cornbread. I officially stink at cornbread cubing.
corn bread cubes
Tomorrow, I'm going to toss it with the celery, onions, browned meat, rehydrated raisins, and seasonings that I have already prepared.

Oh, and I made broccoli too. Not exactly a Thanksgiving staple, but I was in the mood.
broccoli

I can't wait to read all the blogs I follow! I love seeing yummy food!

Faux Lomography

My friend Judi once commented that I took "amazing" photos. I told her that I don't take a-mazing photos; rather, I take a-many photos! And surely, the odds are that a good one is among the hundreds I snap each week. Taking a lot of pictures not only increases the chances of getting a good image, it also helps me to explore and (re)define my style.

Sometimes it's helpful to try something different. (Lomo Kompakt Automat style discovered via Michelle's flickr--thanks, Michelle!)

Lomo flower

Lomo A's

Lomo A2

Lomo James

Note 1: Why are husbands so often furrow-browed in photos? Or is it just mine who's furrowed?
Note 2: Sorry, this was just a lame excuse to post more photos of my family.

25 November 2008

Life lessons from a 3-year-old

A1 believes that you should go down the slide of life head first on your belly, preferably with your tongue sticking out.

belly slide

I'm usually very cautious and I'm particular unadventurous when it comes to new endeavors. But I thought I'd heed his advice and try something new: Pumpkin bread. I partially played it safe with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

pumpkin bread

Sometimes I'm forced to do new things. I was the "Inside" parent helper today at A1's preschool and was asked to make Jello fingers for the class. I was nervous but things turned out quite well.

layered Jello

A1 sliced it up himself.
layered Jello 2

24 November 2008

Felt board

My oils mock me.

Felt board 1

My brushes are disappointed in me.

Felt board 2

But my pre-stretched canvases? They don't care. They not only understand that I'm at a different point in my life, they also suggest wonderful ways to re-purpose them. (This one happens to be 20" x 24".)

Felt board 3

Here is the back once I stapled the flannel to the frame.

felt board 4

And here is the front, with felt pieces that I cut out during the boys' naptime. There's also a green and a white set, but they didn't fit.

felt board 5

It's fun to sort them by shape too.

felt board 6

The boys mostly like to compose images like this:

felt board 7

I'm excited to cut out upper and lower case alphabets, numbers, and songs and stories we love.





Wow, when did it get to the point that felt shapes excited me?

23 November 2008

Learning about pitch

Musical glasses are fun! A1 highly recommends this activity.

pitch

The tapping of the spoon vibrates the glass, resulting in the clinking sound that we hear. But the water dampens those vibrations; therefore, more water results in slower/fewer vibrations and lower pitch while less water allows faster/more vibrations and higher pitch.

22 November 2008

No finicky eaters allowed!

I find the kids eat their meals more readily when they're a part of the preparation. Pizza is a favorite around here because they can participate from start to finish. A1 prefers making the dough and forming the crust but A2 loves adding the toppings.

cheesing pizza

In case you're curious, it was a pepperoni, eggplant, sun-dried tomato, really ripe pineapple, artichoke pizza. Yeah, I usually just dice up whatever happens to be in the frig at the time.

loaded pizza

21 November 2008

Giveaway results

Jo-Ann cards

First off, let me say how much I LOVED LOVED LOVED reading your replies! Oh my goodness, do I ever get a special thrill from discovering the underneath-bits about a person! Everyone walks around with so much that is left unsaid--so many stories as yet untold. And when these narratives bubble up to the surface, our connection to each other is that much stronger for it.

Even though humans are social animals by nature, we are actually quite inextricably, horribly alone because of our separate consciousness. But when we communicate our thoughts and feelings to one another--when we share our experiences through language, we break through the solitude. I think that's why I'm so addicted to the blogosphere, both composing my own and lurking at others'.

Okay, okay, enough babbling, let's get on with the show! I used random.org to randomly select 3 numbers from the 14 comments posted. Here's a screenshot:

random number generator

As you can see, integers 2, 5, and 10 were generated.

random number generator 2

Comment #2 was composed by Kristen, who said she wanted to be omitted from the running. But I distinctly remember her asking for fabric scraps just a few days ago so I know she can put this card to good use.

Comment #5 came from Kat, who most definitely does not need a trip to Joann's because she will come out with far more than can be covered by this gift card and her husband will only blame me for cluttering her craft room their garage even more than it already is!

Comment #10 was written by Michelle, who just got a sewing machine and is well on her way to sewing flannel wipes and FrankenKozies and other such delights so I know she can certainly use this card.

Congratulations to the card recipients and thanks to everyone for stopping by my blog and for commenting!

20 November 2008

Bath time for the dog

Paxil pleads, "HELP!"

dog wash

About 10 years ago, I adopted the Pax and he was King of all that he surveyed.

smiley Pax

When James came into the picture, Pax got another person to dote on him.

J&P

But now that boys have joined the pack, poor Paxil has experienced a serious demotion. It's just the natural order of things, but I feel bad for him anyhow.

19 November 2008

Three steps away from addiction

The only television in our home is the one that is stored in the corner of the garage. Prior to gathering dust in the garage, it gathered dust in the guestroom, where it was turned on but thrice a year at best. So for our family, transitioning to a zero-TV household wasn't exactly a big stretch. But how does a TV-dependent household reduce, or eliminate altogether, their time in front of the boob tube?

1. Believe in the Cause. You need to trust that good can and will come from your decision. Otherwise, you cannot remain steadfast in your resolution. Fortunately, there exists a large body of highly compelling, profoundly supportive evidence.
  • I can admit that not all television is bad. Some programs (Sesame Street and Blue's Clues) but not others (Teletubbies or Veggie Tales) CAN be beneficial--but ONLY for children from single-parent, low-income families. Yes, that means that children from dual-parent, moderate- to high-income families DO NOT benefit.
  • The closer a program simulates the way a nursery school teacher or attentive parents interacts with a child, the more likely it will be superior to other programs. Though let's keep in mind that the best APPROXIMATION of a parent is an ACTUAL parent!
  • An estimated 39% of families with infants and small children have televisions that are always on: These children are severely damaged in their ability to play imaginatively and develop language and they have drastically reduced numbers of nurturing interactions with their parents.
See? It's scary, right?

2. Map an Escape Route. Children who watch a lot of television come to believe that they are entitled to be entertained and that that entertainment comes from external sources. So, until they are able to regain the spontaneous and creative use of their own imagination, you'll have to guide them along a smidge. Start an ongoing gardening project, create a crafting corner with readied supplies, or just sit around and talk to them!

3. Celebrate the Return of Your Children. Little ones will quickly prefer each other and their parents over the television. And while that might seem a bit taxing now, you'll be grateful that they turn to you instead of away from you by the time they're adolescents. Besides, you'll be saving yourself a lot of money because they won't demand all the latest and greatest consumer items from those commercials; and, you'll be saving your kids a lot of empty calories because they won't be enticed by junk food commercials aimed at their impressionable minds.

washer watching

The A's love watching the washer--that's high entertainment in our house! Their threshold for excitement is very low. And yes, I attribute their ability to focus their attention so keenly, their stellar verbal skills, and their astounding state of wonderment at the world to their TV-free home.

18 November 2008

Cruise photos

cruise 1
A lot of photos of the boys' backs were snapped...looking at the dock as above, looking out our cabin window (I'd call it a porthole but it was much more like a window!), running away from me on the mini golf course, running away from me with shuffleboard equipment in hand, or just plain running away from me in general!

cruise 2
It was nice for the boys to enjoy some time with their dad. That's A1 during the safety drill.

cruise 3
And that's A2 on the tour bus on our way to the resort in Ensenada.

cruise 4
The boys haven't slept in the same bed for almost a year now. It was such a sweet sight!

cruise 5
This photo of my parents is pretty illustrative. My mother is madly rifling through her bag, looking for goodness knows what. And my father is looking almost angry because he's being forced to relax when he'd much rather be working. Retirement is not suiting him so well!

17 November 2008

A live post!

Technically, I composed the entries for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday some time ago and posted them automatically via Blogger's handy dandy scheduler. We were actually away on a mini-cruise but I wanted to sustain my goal of daily posts for November.

Surprisingly, I didn't take that many photos--it's so hard to enjoy myself while simultaneously attempting to record the event via camera. Actual people will be posted tomorrow, but for today, please enjoy these images of a seagull (the boys loved getting up close to these fearless avian delights) while we were docked, a drawing of a rebozo back carry on the wall of a cantina, and part of the Gold Coast of Ensenada.

seagull

Mexican babywearer

Ensenada

16 November 2008

Stupid leaf!

When you're a 1.5 years old, you don't operate under false pretenses. Either you like something or you don't. And that's that.

leaf 1

leaf 2

leaf 3

We should all be so lucky as to live in our true skin like that.

15 November 2008

The halfway point

I am a self-critical perfectionist whose over-analysis of any given situation can be so great in magnitude that it renders both psychic and physical paralysis. My status as a procrastinator extraordinaire is usually due to the fact that I am so often frozen by fear and anxiety that nothing gets done until it absolutely has to be done. Even on those rare occasions when I'm able to start a project in a timely manner, I constantly review and revise. (Or in recent times, I constantly rip out stitches to start anew.)

I once read that Dylan Thomas worked and reworked his poems tirelessly and methodically--and it thrilled me to no end to discover this tidbit! His works are so lyrical and melodic, appearing to be free-flowing. In fact, my conception of how poetry is written is generally of instantaneous explosions of creative expression. So to hear that one of my favorites' process was antithetical to that preconceived notion gave such relief.

In choosing to participate in the National Blog Posting Month, I wanted to push my old habits in a corner. While is it true that there is no way that I can post on a daily basis and still maintain the same level of my usual neuroses (e.g., correct grammar, perfectly focused photos, etc.), I still find myself angst-y. Hopefully, by the time this month is over, a bit of that angst will be replaced with some measure of acceptance--of misspellings and crooked photos and of wonky seams too.

So I would recommend this venture to my dear readers, yes...all three of you! Because when we try something new and remain observant, we are sure to learn something about ourselves and come a little closer to our center.



And don't ask how many times I reread this post before hitting the publish button.

14 November 2008

Strange sight

I wore A1 regularly until 3 days before I delivered his brother, and have worn him occasionally since then. And A2? Well, his feet barely touched the ground his first year! But I've just succumbed to the siren song of the double stroller. We all love it! It's so new to the boys, and they think it's their best push toy because they get to ride together.

double stroller

I am feeling a little guilty. It's that whole, "Babywearing keeps your children close to your heart but strollers push them away from you," thing. Plus, I'm prone to spontaneous guilt. James was raised Catholic and I often think I would have made a stellar Catholic, what with all the guilt and such.

13 November 2008

What a monkey!

Enough with the cooking and craft projects...let's return to our regularly scheduled programming where I post endless photos of my children!

A1 collage

I have friends who have decided not to have children. I respect and applaud their choice, but jeez, take a gander at my firstborn. Where would I be--who would I be--if he hadn't made his mother?


A little off tangent: Lately, most of my posted photos, including all 9 above, have been SOOC shots, meaning that I may rotate or crop but I don't fuss with them otherwise. A little bit of the credit goes to my Nikon D80 body but a lot of the credit goes to my 50mm, f/1.8 Nikkor lens.

Thank you.

That is all.